The following is a preview for our new novel, Just Super, which we hope to have out in early April. Hope you like it!
“Comics are bullshit. In every superhero comic ever written the hero finds out they have powers and most of the time they instantly decide that it means they have to dress up in some pansy-assed outfit and fight crime. Like it’s a given: ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ and all that. Well, in real life it doesn’t work that way. In real life there are consequences. If you dress up in some colorful tights with a towel around your neck and decide to fight crime, you either end up in the morgue or on the six o’clock news being hauled away in a pair of handcuffs while people at home laugh their asses off at you.
You won’t see my name plastered all over lunch boxes. You won’t see me with my own T.V. series or movie deal. And you sure as hell won’t catch me dressing up like some cosplayer at an anime convention.Nope, I’m just your average, everyday working stiff who happens to have superpowers; but soon you’ll all know my name.”
– Excerpt from transcripts of the audio interview between Keith Green A.K.A. Justice and Sam Daylin on October 2nd, 2016.
Keith Green was a construction worker who hauled crap around for a living. He lived alone, had no friends and no family. As far as the world was concerned he was completely ordinary- completely anonymous.
So imagine my surprise when this nobody walks up to me as I was leaving my office and tells me the craziest, most amazing thing I’ve ever heard- something that not only ended up changing my life, but changed the world.
“Mr. Daylin? Sam Daylin of the Commercial Appeal?”
“That’s right. How can I help you?”
I have to admit, I didn’t think much of Keith Green when I first met him. Physically, he was a bit imposing I guess. He was 6’2 and well-built compared to my 5’10 and lanky frame. In my defense, the heaviest thing I lifted day to day was a computer mouse while he spent most of his adult life slinging around cement blocks and wooden beams.
Do the math.
Keith had shoulder-length, greasy black hair, with soot and grime smeared over his face and clothes. The white t-shirt and ragged jeans he wore were almost black from it. He didn’t look like much more than the blue collared jerks that I grew up around; the ones that spent more time in bars harassing waitresses and screwing around than doing much else.
Still, there was this…fierceness in his eyes. They were just striking. You hear people say that, but this was the first time I’d ever met someone that literally made me flinch a bit when I met their eyes. They were a bright blue, brighter than I’d ever seen, and when he talked I found it hard to not pay attention to what he said. Then again, what he said was pretty unforgettable anyway.
He offered me his hand, which I took. His grip was like steel, but sweaty. I tried my best to wipe my hands off on my pants without looking obvious about it when he let go.
“My name is Keith Green. Jennifer Chase is my best friend. We grew up together.”
I smiled and nodded as a flood of memories assaulted my brain, bringing with them a small stab of pain. “Yeah, sure. She used to talk about you all the time. How is she? I haven’t heard from her since graduation and I’ve been meaning to look her up since I moved into town. She doing okay?”
He nodded and looked a bit agitated, like he was in a hurry and these pleasantries of normal conversation were a waste of his time. “Yeah, Jenn is fine. A doctor now. Has her own practice on Poplar Avenue, down the street from the mall. She told me I should look you up.”
His voice dropped to a whisper and his gaze grew intense as he leaned a bit closer. “That you were someone I could trust.”
I felt a little alarm bell go off inside my head and the journalist in me took over. I instantly switched gears from casual conversation to cool professional. “Okay, how do you think I can help you, Mr. Green?”
He looked around as though he were afraid someone was watching, listening. “Well, I wanted to offer you a story. The biggest story anyone’s ever heard.”
I relaxed. I get yahoos selling me this same line of crap twice a day before lunch. Everyone thinks their story is special. More often than not it’s not even obituary-worthy. I started to move past him. “Sure, okay. I’ll tell you what: why don’t you shoot me an e-mail about your story and if I think it’s something I’d be interested in I’ll give you a call. Right now I’m on my way home. Tell Jenn I said hi.”
His hand snatched out and clamped down on my right shoulder. “Wait.”
I spun around, knocking his hand away and half tempted to deck him. I don’t do well with people putting their hands on me, especially those I don’t know. He held up his hands defensively. “Look, I know you probably hear people say that kind of thing all the time, but this time it’s true. All I ask is you give me five minutes to prove it to you. That’s all.”
I clinched my jaw and regarded him for a second as I let myself cool down. I thought about agreeing then going inside and siccing security on his ass, but something inside told me to hear him out. “Jenn sent you?”
He nodded then held up his right hand, his fingers spread to emphasize “five”.
“You have five minutes.” I set down my laptop bag and folded my arms. “Go ahead.”
He shook his head.
“Not here.” He glanced up for a second and then pointed. “Meet me up on the roof.”
I snatched up my bag again. “Forget it pal. I don’t have time for this crap.”
He held up a hand. “Look, this’ll be easier if I show you, but I can’t show you down here. Meet me on the roof. Give me five minutes. If you still aren’t convinced I’ll go away and you’ll never see me again.”
I almost told him to take a hike. I had a cold beer and a hot T.V. dinner waiting for me at home. Still, that little voice inside said to give him his five minutes, no matter how stupid it all seemed. I breathed out heavily through my nose, a short burst of released frustration, as I started to turn back to the building door. “Fine, let’s go to the roof.”
“I’ll meet you there.”
I looked back at him for a second and then shrugged. “Whatever.”
I went through the door and headed for the elevators. I glanced back once and he was still standing where I left him, watching me. When he saw me looking he pointed up again and smiled. I hit the call button and muttered, “Freak.”
The elevator dinged and I got inside and pressed the button for the roof. The whole trip up I kept asking myself, “Why the hell am I doing this? This is so stupid.”
It took me a minute to find the rooftop access and by the time I emerged out into the fall night air the sun had already begun to set. Wind kicked up my beige trench coat and I had to reach up and hold my hat down to keep it from flying off of my head. I looked around and, to my complete and utter shock, Keith was already standing there on the ledge behind me, waiting.
I dropped my bag and held out a hand. “Look, if you’re going to jump that’s not the kind of story I’m looking for, okay? So why don’t you come down off of the ledge and we can talk things out.”
He smirked at me, shook his head, and then stepped backwards off of the ledge.
“Son of a bitch!”
I almost slipped on the black gravel crap that was scattered over the roof in my mad dash to the ledge. My cell phone was already in my hand and I was trying frantically to remember how to dial 9-1-1 when I got to the ledge and looked over, fully expecting to see Keith as a red smudge on the concrete below. Instead, I almost had a heart attack as he looked up at me from a few inches down and said, “Boo.”
The phone hit the roof with a crack about a second before I did. Sharp pain shot through me as my backside hit hard, but I ignored it as I scrambled frantically backwards away from the ledge while Keith, who up until a few seconds ago I thought was a complete whack-job, slowly hovered up over the ledge to land on the ground in front of me. The setting sun glistened behind him like a red-orange halo.
“Holy shit! Holy SHIT! HOLY SHIT!”
I hauled myself off the ground, turned, and ran for the door as fast as I could- only to run face-first into his chest. I bounced off him and ended up back on my ass. He held up his hands in what I’m sure he thought was a reassuring gesture, but it’s hard to be reassuring when your feet are hovering several inches off the ground. “Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you. I can explain everything.”
He smirked as he folded his arms across his chest and settled down to the ground again. “For a writer you have a pretty limited vocabulary.”
I was trying hard to keep from hyperventilating. “You just…you just…you just…”
“Flew? Yeah. And that last bit was touch of super speed. Figured a demonstration was in order if you were going to believe what I’m about to tell you.”
“What the hell are you?”
He smiled again and that wasn’t very reassuring either. “Mr. Daylin, I’m the man that’s going to make you famous.” He glanced down at his watch. “And I still have four minutes. Interested in hearing the rest?”
Of course I was.
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